Ask the Staff: What to Do with Kids in Las Vegas
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Q: Hey Tom, Lily wants to check out Las Vegas. She just turned 12. Any suggestions? We were there once before and checked out the strip and I have some ideas but wanted your opinion. I know it's hot but we are looking at July or August. Thanks! –Bridgette in New York
A: Bridgette, you will hear a lot of people say that the days of a family-friendly Vegas are gone and that it is no place for children, but I certainly beg to differ. There are a ton of great things to do that might not be as cool to some people, but I am a kid at heart so everything on this list isn’t just for the 12-year-olds.
There are plenty of rides to experience no matter where you are on the strip. There is the Big Apple Coaster and Arcade at New York, New York, and The Big Shot, X-Scream and Insanity on top of the Stratosphere. If you are worried about keeping cooler, check out the Adventure Dome at Circus Circus and they even have a midway there with games of skill (no crazy carnies though). There is also, just a short drive from the strip a Wet and Wild water park to check out as well. If zoos and aquariums are more Lily’s thing than check out the Aquarium at the Silverton, Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay, and Siegfried & Roy's Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat.
If your child is like many and a little brainier, then they might be interested in CSI: The Experience, where you actually go through crime scenes, take notes, capture clues, work through and solve the case. When you finish they even give you a diploma (just like mine right there). There is also Bodies: The Exhibition at the Luxor if your child digs on biology or The Titanic Artifact Exhibit as well for the history buffs. If they are into pop culture, check out Madame Tussauds Las Vegas, which has wax figures of all the major stars from the last 60 years. You will be surprised how small some of them are, like Arnold Schwarzenegger for instance. M&Ms World is a hugely favorite stop and it is pretty much right next to the MGM.
The fountains at Bellagio are a no brainer, you have to show her those and they are even better at night. There is also the Fall of Atlantis at Caesars Palace (animatronics show), Streetmosphere at the Venetian (street performers), and the Botanical Gardens at the Bellagio which are definitely worth the walk through as well. Freemont has the experience and that is not just what is overhead on the screen, but also street performers, bands, and zip lining right down the whole street!
Back to Nature
There are plenty of outdoor opportunities just outside of the Vegas valley. There is also the Springs Preserve not far from the strip, but if you really want to see some amazing scenery, check out Red Rock Canyon, Mt. Charleston, The Hoover Dam and of course, The Grand Canyon. Death Valley isn’t too far away either, but in the summer it is going to be hot. REAL HOT.
The one place that I always mention first and foremost when you are talking about Las Vegas is the Pinball Hall of Fame. They have more than 140 pinball machines ranging from the 1950s to today and they are all available for play. And the best part is that if the game cost a quarter back in the day, it is still a quarter. Less than one mile from the strip on Tropicana behind the MGM is where this place lies, and you don’t want to miss it.
Well I hope that sends you in the right direction, and I want to close with a couple of keep-in-minds. Children are not allowed to sit at the bar in restaurants, bars, and casinos in Las Vegas and they aren’t even allowed on the gambling floor in any casinos, either. Most casinos will tell you exactly where the kids can and cannot go, and security will waste no time setting you straight. There are no more or less mean or evil people in Las Vegas than there are anywhere else, but you should still be vigilant because with everyone looking up at the lights, you have a tendency to not look forward. Good luck and let me know how it goes.
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